February 10, 2022
The Second Session of the 117th Congress is now in session. Although the midterm elections are not until fall, they cast a shadow over how much will get done in the intervening months. One of the first priorities for Congress is passing an omnibus package of the annual appropriations for fiscal year (FY) 2022. A continuing resolution is currently to keep government agencies running but it expires on February 18. A shutdown is unlikely, but members of the Senate Appropriations Committee from both parties warn that if negotiators miss the mid-February deadline, it increases the likelihood that the Administration will have to settle for a yearlong stopgap funding measure to keep the government open. If the GOP gains control of Congress, that would prevent President Biden from putting his own stamp on department and agency budgets.
While the FY22 budget remains in limbo, work is underway on the FY23 budget. The administration is expected to release their proposal in mid to late March. We will be monitoring that and advocating for research funding.
The Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry of the House Agriculture Committee recently had the first Congressional hearing on the 2023 Farm Bill, a session titled "A 2022 Review of Farm Bill Conservation Programs. " They began looking at current Farm Bill programs to consider any needed changes in the next Farm Bill, in which climate is expected to be a major topic. Witnesses included Zach Ducheneaux, administrator, Farm Service Agency, and Terry Cosby, chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service. The Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management has planned a hearing to review farm policy with Undersecretary Robert Bonnie on February 8. Various coalitions are meeting to finalize priorities for their advocacy in the bill. As we join coalition actions on the budget, Farm Bill, and other issues, you will find the documents posted on the FASS website under Science Policy.
House Introduces Competitiveness Package
Last week, House Democrats introduced the America COMPETES Act of 2022, a nearly 3,000-page bill that is the counterpart to the Senate-passed U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (see also the COMPETES fact sheet and section-by-section description). Since the bill's introduction, House members have introduced more than 500 amendments. Several bipartisan STEM-related bills are part of the package, including reauthorizations for the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, and National Institute of Standards and Technology, as well as legislation focused on minority-serving institutions, rural STEM education, early-career researchers, and sexual harassment in STEM.
Looking for Your Input: Outlining the US Government's Global Food Security Research Strategy, 2022-2026
In response to the refreshed US government's Global Food Security Strategy, released in September 2021, the Feed the Future Interagency Working Group on Research in support of the Global Food Security Act (GFSA), co-led by USAID and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is developing an updated Global Food Security Research Strategy (GFSRS) that lays out key opportunities for using scientific inquiry to achieve priority outcomes. An initial dialogue began in October 2021, providing the community with the opportunity to share general observations about the refreshed Global Food Security Strategy. The draft outline is being shared to provide the research community with a further opportunity for comment as the new strategy takes shape.
Share your feedback via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject line "GFSRS Outline Feedback." The deadline for feedback is February 11.
An Opportunity for Input to NIH
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is asking the scientific community for feedback on updating its 2014 Genomic Data Sharing (GDS) Policy. According to a blog post by the acting associate director for science policy and acting director of the NIH Office of Science Policy Lyric Jorgenson, "[I]n the seven years since the GDS Policy has been issued, it has proven remarkably resilient in evolving with the science. The Policy has kept pace with the increase in cloud computing, the emergence of novel methods to reduce the burden associated with accessing human genomic data, and a reassessment of the risks and benefits of sharing genomic summary results. With that said, even the best policies can only accommodate a rapidly changing field so much through clarifying guidance documents. The framework of the GDS Policy is continually tested by new trends in the field." Comments will be accepted through February 28.
NCFAR Latte N Learn with NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer and ERS Administrator Spiro Stefanou
Join the National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research (NCFAR) for a "Latte N Learn" virtual education series featuring USDA Research, Education, and Economics leaders. Learn about the research community's critical role in advancing climate-smart agriculture and nutrition security in our global food supply chain, including the latest 2022 priorities at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), and Economic Research Service (ERS). On February 23 at 10 a.m. eastern, NASS administrator Hubert Hamer and ERS administrator Spiro Stefanou will be featured. Recordings from previous sessions can be found on the NCFAR website.
Click here to register for the upcoming session!
CAST Publication: Goals, Strengths, and Limitations Governing the Use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in Food and Agriculture
Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a method to identify all the inputs and outputs necessary to make a product and quantify the associated environmental and socioeconomic impacts. In its simplest form, the LCA method describes the inputs (e.g., energy, materials, and resources) to a process and all the resulting outputs, including emissions and losses to the environment. An LCA provides a modeling framework to link all processes together such that the sum of the inputs and outputs of all involved processes are included. It also provides a system perspective that considers a product's life cycle and quantifies the relevant impacts caused by it. Even though LCA is not a cure-all for environmental issues, it is a tool that, if correctly and completely used, can logically and methodically examine environmental impacts for specific products, processes, systems, and even entire supply chains.
The new CAST Commentary: Goals, Strengths, and Limitations Governing the Use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) In Food and Agriculture, is now available to download on CAST's website.
FASS Science Policy Committee
The FASS Science Policy Committee meets via Zoom call. In our most recent meeting, H. Russell Cross was recognized and thanked for his six years of service as he rotated off the committee. Eric Gonder was elected to a three-year term on the committee. The group continues to make progress on updating the FASS Science Policy Statements and planning activities to advance animal agriculture research. Please contact me if you have questions, ideas, or suggestions on any of these or other policy issues. We will provide additional information as it becomes available. We need to work together to maintain a strong and effective national research effort.
If you are interested in serving on the Science Policy Committee or communicating occasionally with members of Congress on issues related to animal agriculture, we are looking for FASS science policy advocates. Please contact me for details.
Ken Olson, PhD, PAS
FASS Science Policy Coordinator